Planning to start a family – or add to your existing one! - is an exciting time, with lots to think about and many decisions to make. Although you'll probably be eager to start deciding on various aspects of your pregnancy and beyond, there are some things that just can't wait.
You're probably already familiar with some of the many vitamins and nutrients a woman should be taking during the pregnancy to ensure optimum health for both her and her baby. But there are actually some that it's a good idea to make sure you're getting enough of before even getting pregnant, for various reasons. Some of the important ones are listed below to help you get organised, stay healthy, and plan well.
This is the number one essential nutrient for a healthy baby. Without the mother having a high enough intake during pregnancy, the baby can end up with various skeletal and brain defects, so it's the one you want to be extremely careful with. However, it's also recommended that anyone planning a pregnancy should begin taking it daily.
600 micro grammes a day is the recommended dose, which you can get from a supplement. It's also present in leafy green vegetables, grains, citrus fruit and many fortified breads to help you increase your intake.
This essential fatty acid helps maintain normal brain and heart function, and everyone should be getting plenty in their diet. If you're not, before conceiving is the ideal time to start, as not having enough will impact your baby's development.
There's a delicate balance with iron, and it's important to get it right. Too much of it can harm you and your unborn baby, but not enough can also do damage and make you anaemic. It's especially important to get enough iron during pregnancy as your count will naturally fall with the baby's growth. If you don't want to take a supplement, dark leafy vegetables, beans, liver and red meat are all good sources to help you stock up before your pregnancy.
This vitamin is an essential partner to calcium when it comes to maintaining healthy bones for you and helping your baby's skeleton grow strong. You can get this simply by being in the sun during the summer, and the body can store it for a while. It's also in eggs and some fish, plus a range of fortified foods like breakfast cereals.
A vital component of any diet, most people get enough protein for normal daily life. However, raising your intake slightly before pregnancy can help you conceive, so it's worth adding a bit extra into your diet in the form of meat, fish, tofu, and beans.
Talk to your obstetrician for more information.